She was just 18 years old when she began her career which unveils her passion for gemology in the Bulgari department. 35 years later, Lucia Silvestri is still there travelling around the world selecting the best gems and doing the job that only the Bulgari brothers had done in the past, Director of Gem Acquisitions. She revealed to Prestige her long path marked by successes in the luxury gem Bulgari department.
You were studying Biology before entering Bulgari… How do you go from Biology to Jewelry? (laughs) It was actually through my father who was working at Bulgari and knew Mr Bulgari. A lady was on maternity-leave so he asked me if I wanted to replace the secretary, for a four-month period… And 35 years later, I’m still here! (laughs) During these four months, Mr. Paolo Bulgari introduced me to the raw material office, and when I saw all these gems together I was like Alice in Wonderland (laughs). I felt immediately in love with the gems and started playing with colors. At the time the small company needed a young person who could follow the three Bulgari brothers… They thought I could be the right person, and they decided to trust me. It was a dream to be very young in this top level luxury world with these incredible men… I was really in wonderland.
You were 18 at the time… Yes… and engaged to a Doctor. We were planning on working together, me as a biologist and him as a doctor. At first, he was not happy with my change of career (laughs) but my dad was! Eventually, my fiancé understood how passionate I became about gems.
What attracted you to the gems? The energy! Also, Mr Bulgari transmitted his passion for the stones to me. I could feel the mix of sensations that I still have. This is the secret of success in any job… I hope that through the jewels we create, we are able to communicate this passion.
Colored gems have become a signature for Bulgari… We don’t use colored gems without diamonds… Diamonds are always the link between the colored gems. We can also be Bulgari just by using diamonds… In the new collection Giardini Italiani, you can see some pieces that are very Bulgari style in terms of design. They are contemporary with a touch from the past. The craftsmanship is very beautiful, the geometry of the design so you can feel all the sensation of Bulgari…
You’ve been traveling the world to find gems, what do you bring back personally from all these travels? Great experience, emotions, sensations, inspiration… I am who I am because of this job, and all the travels I do.
There’s a story behind each piece? I can tell you the story behind every piece! I have very strong relations with owners of mines… So I sometime go to visit mines, and see the rough stones, and suggest how they can cut it… It is actually what I love most about this job: witnessing the transformation of a rough stone into a gem… It’s magic! The magic that nature creates.
When you’re looking for a gem, do you have already the design in mind? It’s the opposite, the gem gives me the inspiration. The first rule that Mr Bulgari taught me is to select and then acquire gems only if I could see a possible use for them… Don’t buy a gem just because it is beautiful. In the very act of purchasing, before the design and realization phases, I am imagining compositions of colors and forms that might suggest the pieces of jewelry that they would become. I have to be rational, not only emotional. If we buy a gem, we don’t have to use it right away… Sometimes we have to be patient. My mind is divided in two, I have a creative mind very free, very feminine and the opposite is very masculine, very business oriented.
Do you believe that gems have a certain power on us? I believe in the energy of the gems… For example, I always feel much better when I’m wearing a spinel. For this reason, I’m always wearing something with colors.
How did you get inspired by the gardens? We are a garden of jewels because we start from the seeds that are gems. (laughs) During a trip to Florence, I spent with my team some time in a garden and someone suggested: «Why don’t you do something with a garden connection?» We already did Flora, a collection inspired by flowers, the Naturalia collection around the animal world… So why not do something with an Italian garden? They are geometrical like we are and colorful… So we started to work with gardens.
If you had to describe Bulgari jewelry, what would you say? Creative, contemporary, feminine and yet timeless and iconic. Conducted in Paris byMARIA NADIM